Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You'll Go Down in HISTORY!

So, I know I'm supposed to be presenting the Timeline of Life right about now...or about a month ago.  However, a few weeks ago I dragged it all out to prepare my presentation for the next day and something was bothering me.  I wasn't sure that my children were going to understand what a timeline is.  Sure, they would do the work and do the follow-up work and everything would LOOK just fine on the surface.  But I didn't really think they were going to understand that this was 6000 years (or more) of time represented on a long strip of paper.  Even if Kal-El understood that this was some kind of sequence of events I didn't think he was going to appreciate or truly understand what one year or 1000 years really IS.  It would be like teaching the Montessori math sequence starting with the stamp game and skipping the golden beads.  I decided that before I started the Timeline of Life I wanted the boys to have an idea of the "passing of time" and the "recording of time" as well as have some experiences with MUCH SIMPLER timelines first.  Coincidentally, around this time the boys starting having a lot of questions about calendars, the months of the year, and telling time on an analog clock. Hmm.

You see, I never got off my duff and used Karen Tyler's history album with the boys.  I think anyone's first time through any of the Montessori sequences is overwhelming and you just can't or won't get to everything.  History is something I felt I could easily let slide because things like calendars and telling time are also included in the elementary albums.  As it stands, I'm not really embarrassed about my timing at all because I am perfectly hitting a sensitive period for this with the boys.  December is a great month to start using a calendar for the first time because we can align the work with our Advent season countdown to Christmas.  The first Great Lesson introduced the relationship between the Earth and the Sun.  This has been a great time to expand on this with the idea that a "year" is the amount of time it takes the Earth to revolve around the Sun.  The fraction work we've been doing really enhanced their understanding of dividing the year into twelfths (yeah, yeah, I know...not really a fraction because the months aren't all the same size).  Kal-El has a December birthday so it is a great time to talk more about the Earth revolving around the Sun and have Kal-El do the birthday walk seven times around the Sun.  That said, if your kid is in their last year of primary and you need something to do the History albums is a great choice ;)

So, we have been burning through Karen's history album like it's going out of style!  We are about halfway done!  Here are some glimpses of what we've been doing:

We started with a "History" tray loaded with a kitchen timer, hourglass, Great-Grandpa's watch, stopwatch, and a calendar.

Great-Grandpa's watch was Me Too's favorite!

The boys have counted tree rings.

Me Too is tracking time with a bean jar.  Kal-El is notching a stick (not pictured).  I keep planning to record time while we are popping corn, but never seem to have the energy in the afternoon.  I also want to record time while we grow a seed, but that takes actual preparation and forethought...both of which are lacking around here lately.

In the meantime, we have done a lot of activities in which we just "observed time passing."  We played the "Statue Game."

Hey!  We didn't get new carpet, we're just in the family room instead of the school room!

The boys experienced the idea that time goes by whether we are moving or standing still.

We were silent as we watched a minute pass on the stopwatch.

We were silent as we watched a minute pass on the clock.

They learned that a year is the amount of time that it takes the Earth to revolve around the Sun and that those 365 days are divided into 12 months.  I taught them a "Months of the Year" song (To the Tune of Michael Finnegan).  Okay, FIRST I taught them the song Michael Finnegan.  THEN I taught them the "Months of the Year" to the tune of Michael Finnegan.  I have a pet peeve about stealing a tune and teaching it with educational or "funny" lyrics if the kids don't know the real lyrics first.  I get upset when kids don't know the words to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" but DO know "Take Me Out of the Bathtub."  But anyway, I digress...

Me Too worked with some three-part cards for the four seasons:

The boys already knew the days of the week thanks to, well, being human beings "doing things" every day for five-seven years :)  They also knew a days of the week song thanks to their Leap Frog Fridge DJ.  So, instead of the usually point of interest we used the days of the week cards to look at the calendar and talk about whether Sunday is the FIRST day of the week or the LAST day of the week.  We are LAST day of the week people around here, but that doesn't stop the calendar companies.  The Leap Frog song starts the days of the week with Monday (perfect) but just for fun I taught them a second song that starts the days of the week with Sunday.  Fortunately they are already familiar with the song from the Adam's Family so I didn't have any ethical issues changing the words. 

Speaking of the Adam's Family, the boys don't watch it.  They learned the song listening to Pandora Radio at Halloween time.  However if you are a homeschooling parent, particularly a Montessorian or unschooler, you will really get a kick out of watching the very first episode of the Adam's family.  The kids are homeschooled and the truant officer shows up to find out why they aren't in school.  He is given a tour of the super-advanced interest-driven projects the kids are doing. Mr. Adam's attitude is spot-on and he really cracks me up...especially the line "Why have children just to get rid of them!"  However Mrs. Adams decidse to send them to school for socialization where they are taught a bunch of dribble and the Adams' family is horrified by the violence in the schools (Grimm's fairytales).  Fun times!

  Montessori Monday


  1. This is just awesome! What wonderful things happen when we follow the child, not the crowd:) Thank you so much for sharing.

    I am really getting a kick out of the boys being "twins" lately.

  2. Great activities to introduce history! And I had fun seeing the Adam's Family again! :) Thanks for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow

  3. Thanks Deb! I always appreciate hearing from you!

  4. DM,

    Thanks :) The funny thing about Kal-El being so particular about the kind of clothes he wears (read: comfortable, requiring no thought) is that when I find something he likes I just buy it in several sizes. He keeps growing but his wardrobe never changes. Then, Me Too has all the same stuff in his closet. They can match anytime they want, LOL! It does make it trickier to hang up the laundry. I have to check the tag for size on EVERY shirt.

  5. I usually buy shirts and pants like that too - see something in a style I like AND my son likes - and at a good price - and just buy it ALL (ok, not all - but all sizes ;) ). So I have photos of him from age 2 through age 6 wearing the same 2 shirts (his favorites). Not because he only had TWO - because he had the same on in every size ;)

    Now I've passed those smaller clothes down (what didn't get worn out ;) ) to a friend of mine who finally had a boy after several girls - so now we see pictures of HIM wearing the same cloths all the time, despite growing! It's great!

    Your boys look great matching like that!

    And finally - I started to just comment on the fun history stuff you're doing! I always wonder how a child is going to respond to timelines as well - and when I'm in a weekly class I may not have time to back things up and do such activities with them, so I just give the timeline anyway. And they get it - it might not be right away, but since we're telling the story in order as we "walk" the timeline, it works out and they usually get it after a while.

    Always best to have that time to back up a bit and assure a VERY strong foundation! Sounds like your boys have it :)

    (I've not seen Adam's Family in YEARS - what a distraction! ;) )

  6. Very cool! We are going be doing a bunch of this same thing here! Bunny will be doing the presentations out of our elementary albums, and I am sort of combining it with Karen's stuff at the same time. Then both girls are getting it and I can usually work it together!I love that in the elementary albums there is an imaginative aspect of it for Bunny. :) I'm so glad to see you doing the work so I know what is next! I need to get to work now making a few things for the presentations. I am making my geography charts as I go! Your lesson is AWESOME! I cant wait to show the girls!